Everyone seems to use either Lyft or Uber. There are liability risks of using Uber and Lyft, but unfortunately, most people using these convenient ride-sharing services don't think about it -- that is, until they are involved in a car accident. The fact is, when you ride in any vehicle, you are always at-risk of being in an auto collision. You might or might not buckle-up when you hop into a Lyft or Uber car, and you certainly are not alone.
Insurance and Ride-Share Services
You might wonder if you have to wear a seatbelt while riding in a Uber or Lyft car and/or if you are protected should you be injured in an accident. Well, the answer isn't clear-cut. Data suggests that few passengers of public transportation buckle-up when riding. In fact, about 65 percent of taxi passengers use seatbelts. That's quite a difference compared to private vehicle passengers, who wear seatbelts approximately 87 percent of the time, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA").
Drivers for ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are under increased attack from insurance companies. However, there is less publicity regarding ride-sharing passengers and their insurance coverage. Are they covered during ride-sharing, and if so, by whom? The answer is not always clear. It would seem that for most cases, the policy of the ride-sharing company will cover your costs -- but it's not obvious whether you will have to go through other insurance paths first. --Time.com
Both companies do urge riders to buckle-up and state law requires passengers to wear safety belts. However, this doesn't mean every Uber and Lyft passenger actually takes the precaution of buckling-up and this causes significant problems to arise after an accident when insurance is involved. Even though Lyft and Uber drivers are required by state law to have valid auto insurance, this doesn't mean you are protected in the event of an accident.
The Liability Risks of Using Uber & Lyft
Most people know ride-share services carry $1 million in liability coverage, as well as another $1 million in uninsured/underinsured policies. According to their websites, passengers are covered from the moment they enter the independent contractor's vehicle until the time they exit. However, both companies make crystal clear passengers assume risk using ride-sharing services. This is very important because, although disclaimers are not likely to shield these ride-share companies from legal action, these services are not considered "common carriers." Under California law, common carriers have a duty of care for passengers. These include licensed taxi, limousines, and like services. This complicates who is responsible for passenger injuries suffered during an auto accident while riding in a Uber or Lyft car. Further complicating the liability risks of using Uber and Lyft is the doctrine of comparative negligence. Under Golden State law, parties involved in car collisions are assigned a percentage of blame. For instance, if you hire a limousine or schedule a shuttle service to take you to an event or an airport, if you wear your seatbelt and are injured in a collision, you will probably not be held partially responsible for your injuries. However, if you do not buckle-up when riding in a limousine or shuttle and are involved in an accident, you might be held partially liable for your own injuries. Of course, there is always the consideration of the insurance companies. Each will do its best to limit claims' payouts, regardless if it's corporate policies taken out by the ride-sharing services or personal auto coverage of the driver. So what do you do to protect yourself? Get in and buckle up no matter if you are in a Lyft or Uber, taxi, limousine or your friend's car. If you or a loved one are involved in an auto collision, you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. Time is not on your side and you need to know your rights and if you are entitled to compensation.